Friday, March 6, 2015

Chronic Stress Can Wreak Havoc on the Body

News Brief by Samantha Fine
            Chronic stress can arise from recurring pain, post-traumatic memories, unemployment, family tension, poverty, child abuse or even residence in a dangerous neighborhood. With constant stress, health risks, such as those of heart attacks, strokes, infections, and asthma, increase significantly. Only in the past two decades have scientists been able to prove the dangers of chronic stress. In a study conducted by British researchers, thousands of male British citizens were examined. They found that the men in the more stressful jobs smoked more, had higher blood pressure, exercised less, and were more likely to die of heart problems than men in less stressful positions.
            Other research has shown that certain jobs, such as those of police officers, can create greater health risks. Officers are 21 times more likely to die of a heart attack when in an altercation with a suspect.  Furthermore, a high stress personality can also lead to health problems. In a study conducted at San Carlos University in Madrid, 150 adults who had survived a stroke were given a personality survey and were found to score high on having Type A behaviors. Everyday stressors have a major cumulative impact on immune response and can contribute to physical deterioration. Research has proven that even small wounds take a longer time to heal when a person is stressed.
            Forms of stress can arise in various ways: from long job hours to feelings of loneliness.  John Cacioppo, a social neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, states that being isolated increases blood pressure, creates a fragmented sleep pattern and diminish one’s overall immunity. A test in mice with breast cancer showed that stress, created by confining mice in a small space for two hours a day, increased the likelihood of cancer spreading throughout the entire body by thirty-fold. Chronic stress wreaks havoc on the body, yet solutions are still unclear. Although cures such as self-help, social support and anti-anxiety medications have shown to decrease stress, treatment varies from person to person. Perhaps the lingering question is whether cures for chronic stress will become more individualized, focusing on the stressors that differ depending on the person. 
      Seppa, Nathan. "Chronic Stress Can Wreak Havoc on the Body." Science News. Science News, 20 Feb. 2015. Web. 06 Mar. 2015. .

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